I was proud this week to stand on stage and collect an award on behalf of Construction News from mental health charity Mind.
We launched our mental health campaign, Mind Matters, to promote awareness and instigate positive change in the industry back in January.
Mind had shortlisted us for Best Publication against the Guardian’s Healthcare Professionals Network, the Sunday Express, Metro.co.uk and Men’s Health. At the award ceremony it was striking to see how normal it was for the UK’s largest broadcast and print media to be exploring mental health on front pages and primetime slots.
But it struck me while reading through Sir Michael Latham’s 1994 Constructing the Team report in the last week, how long it takes for widespread change to occur in this industry.
Sir Michael passed away earlier this month and the outpouring of affection and respect for him is evident from the response we have received from the industry. I never met the man, but his report was referenced often when I joined CN in 2011 and continues to be raised today.
While there has been much progress in the industry in the last 23 years, thanks in part to the Latham Report, progress in other areas remains frustratingly slow.
Consider this line from his report: “Women are seriously under-represented in the industry. There is no obvious reason why this should be so…”
I wonder what he would have made of the industry in the latter years of his illness. Mental health wouldn’t have been countenanced as something men should be encouraged to talk about when he wrote his seminal report. But it should have been talked about properly before now.
When we started campaigning on mental health, I wanted CN to raise awareness of the issue and the stigma that surrounds it. That stigma is being broken down in wider society by people who appeared at Mind’s awards this week, from Stephen Fry to Prince Harry, talking about their own experiences.
And what has really struck a chord with the CN team is how powerfully the stories we publish have resonated with readers.
At the CN Summit next week I will be chairing panels on mental health with people striving to make a positive impact in this industry.
There will always be more that can be done. But if companies and individuals are willing to speak out, peoples’ lives will be improved and this industry will shake off the shackles that so often hold it back.